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Perfect places  |  21 August 2019

Special places to visit — Summer.

The River Thames near Mike's home.
Hilary in the Pacific, Vancouver in the background.
Emma with her daughters.
Sam’s son having fun at the Latitude Festival.
Carli’s family body boarding in Wales.
Ben’s glorious photo taken in Chamonix.
Ruby’s daughter with Swans at their back door.

It’s summer in the UK and as a team we’ve been busy with holidays and day trips.

Like our homes, the places we choose to holiday and break from our usual routine are unique to us. We’ve been sharing our recommendations for special summer places in the office and thought it would be nice to share them with you.

We hope you enjoy them.

The River Thames, England. Mike Jacob.

Co-founder Mike’s quest in life is to deliver exceptional buildings through his unflinching pursuit of quality. His favourite place to spend time in the summer is with his children on the banks of the River Thames near his home in Caversham, Berkshire, England. Caversham lies on the north bank of the river — approximately 40 miles outside of central London.

“Sometimes it feels like society operates at a crazy pace, out of step with what's actually going on.”

Mike Jacob

River Thames
A picturesque area with lots of green space, perfect for families. At 215 miles / 346 km the River Thames is the longest river that flows entirely in England. It flows through many picturesque towns and villages in the South of England but is probably best known as the large tidal river flowing through London. Its history is rich and it has played many roles in human settlement. In 1929 MP John Burns said “The Thames is liquid history”.

Mike says: “Every now and then I get held in a moment with my kids. Wherever I am when that happens would be my favourite place, but a good number of those moments have occurred on a certain stretch of the River Thames.”

He adds: “The river is in step, moving effortlessly through the landscape. It is restorative, it slows you down and makes you feel good. We love spending time here and have recently bought an inflatable canoe so that we can do more. Why do we love it? Well because, for us it’s that intangible perfect place where everything just feels right!”

Pacific Coast, British Columbia, Canada. Hilary Wilson.

Hilary leads customer support at Kiss House. She ensures buying a Kiss House is a smooth, stress-free experience. She’s Canadian and came to London in 2005 on an adventure with a friend. They both met their now husbands and have made the UK home. But Canada will always be home too and her favourite place to visit in the summer months is Vancouver in British Columbia.

“Take me to the coast and I’ll find a sense of comfort and home, it doesn’t really matter where I am in the world.”

Hilary Wilson

Vancouver, Canada
It’s a bustling seaport which is one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse cities. It was first settled in 1869 and is known today for its laid–back vibe and fantastic scenery. Surrounded by stunning mountains you can be mountain trekking in the morning and sea kayaking in the afternoon. It is the eighth largest city in Canada with a population of over 630,000 people (2.4 million people in the wider Vancouver area). Vancouver benefits from having one of the warmest winter climates in Canada.

Hilary says: “I’m not really a summer person, I much prefer cooler weather. I’ll take a woolly jumper and log fire over blazing heat any day. If I could choose a place to be on a hot summer day, it would be in the ocean. There is a calmness and comfort that I feel being near the sea. I miss the ocean a lot.”

She explains “I’m not one to lounge on the beach reading a book ― lovely but not my thing. I prefer being in the ocean whenever possible. Sitting on the beach at sunset is also one of my favourite things to do. I grew up on the coast and as a child I spent a lot of time on the beach with friends and family. There is a calmness and comfort that I feel when I’m near the sea and doing this in Vancouver is perfect.”

Scotland (in a campervan). Emma Bradbury.

Emma is a creative and makes sure what we do at Kiss House is in step with our visual identity. She uses her design skills to provide art direction and to spot designers we can work with. Emma and her young family have spent the summer touring Scotland and enjoying the stunning scenery and great outdoors.

“It's great to see our girls running wild, playing, making new friends and getting grubby.”

Emma Bradbury

Scotland
The UK’s northernmost country, it’s a land of mountain wildernesses such as the Cairngorms and Northwest Highlands, interspersed with glacial glens (valleys) and lochs (lakes). Scotland was voted “the most beautiful country in the world” by readers of www.roughguides.com The population is 5.5 million, spread across the mainland and the (approximately) 790 Islands off of the coast (130 of which are inhabited). The land is steeped in myth and legend, such as that of the Loch Ness Monster. Moreover, the national symbol of Scotland is the Unicorn.

Emma says: “This summer we’re on a road trip to Scotland and my favourite place to spend time is our campervan ― camping in different locations as we travel north.”

“We have a bell tent that attaches to our van and our girls think we are in the circus as we pack up camp and set up again in a different town. It’s very special to me as I LOVE camping and it reminds me of childhood camping holidays with my parents.”

She adds “we live in a busy town with limited outdoor playing areas or safe cycle routes so we like to choose campsites that have limited facilities. Places that are off grid and off line. It’s lovely to have the space and freedom for us all to be away from technology and be in the moment. It gives us all time to reset and refuel.”

The Latitude Festival, Suffolk, England. Sam Smith (the author of this piece ;-)

The newest recruit at Kiss House I am responsible for engaging with the Kiss House community through our social media. I actively look for opportunities to inform, inspire and delight. My special summer place is the Latitude Festival, Hepworth Farm, Suffolk, England.

“With such busy lives it was lovely to spend time as a family, just having fun.”

Sam Smith

Latitude Festival
The Latitude Festival is an annual music festival that has taken place in Suffolk, England annually since it started in 2006. It includes a line–up of musicians, bands and artists plus elements of theatre, art, comedy, cabaret, poetry, politics, dance and literature. Suffolk is a picturesque county on the Eastern English coast with a population of 750,000. Known for its idyllic historic towns, wetlands and the Suffolk coast and heaths which are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

My thoughts: “As an end of term treat for our three children, we went to the Latitude Festival one of the UK’s largest family friendly festivals. Admittedly, only for one day and we did stay in a hotel (we’re not totally crazy!). It’s tricky trying to entertain children of very different ages but we all had a fantastic time. The festival is very well organised and it felt very safe.”

“It was set on a beautiful site and was nowhere near as busy as other festivals we’ve been to. Very well organised there were barely any queues for food or toilets and everything was clean and well planned out. The food options were fantastic and there was something to suit everyone. There were picnic benches and tables with plenty of space to spread out. Hammocks in the trees and tonnes of things to do for everyone. All in all a great fun and stress free experience.”

Cardigan and Poppit Sands, Wales. Carli Jordan.

Co-founder Carli is responsible for the day–to–day running of Kiss House. Her special summer place is Poppit Sands near Cardigan in Northern Pembrokeshire, Wales. It’s a place where she’s spent many happy summer holidays with family and friends.

“Beautiful open space and fresh air that smells of the fields and ocean.”

Carli Jordan

West Wales
Wales is a country in the west of Great Britain known for its 1,680 miles / 2,700 km of rugged coastline. Bordered to the east by England and across the Irish Sea by Ireland. Population — just over 3 million. It’s largely mountainous with the higher peaks in the north and central areas. Wales has it’s own distinctive language and Celtic culture and is reckoned to be the castle capital of the world with over 600! West Wales includes Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire, and is a beautiful area with wonderful beaches and a fantastic coastal path.

Carli says: “It’s beautiful, quiet and relaxed. The beaches are stunning and we’ve had happy holidays with family and friends there for the last few years. There are wonderful independent eateries and great places to stay including Cardigan Castle.”

“The air feels very different to where we live in the busy South of England. It’s clean and fresh with the smell of the fields and the ocean. The atmosphere is calm, and I feel like everyday stresses begin to dissolve as soon as we arrive.”

“One of the things I really love is that there are lots of independent businesses run by young people with vision. One is the Bara Menyn Bakehouse a bakery cafe whose owner is driven by a passion for slow food and ethical produce made with love and respect in a homely, historic space — it really is feel–good food.”

Chamonix, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Ben Davies.

Ben was co-founder of well-renowned creative communications agency, The Neighbourhood. At Kiss House, he oversees news output. Ben’s special summer place is anywhere in the mountains. This summer he spent time in the mountains in Chamonix, Rhône-Alpes, France.

“The glacial air is intoxicatingly clean and healthy, and the calmness and stillness of the high alpine environment seems to create a different energy in my brain — relaxed yet productive.”

Ben Davies

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is one of the most prosperous regions of France. It stretches from Lake Geneva to the Cevennes. It borders Switzerland and Italy and houses France’s second city Lyon. Population — 6.5 million. It’s Massif Central mountains and dramatic canyons have been carved by the Ardèche River and are popular for hiking and rafting. Chamonix sits at the intersection of France, Switzerland and Italy and is renowned for its skiing and panoramic views.

Ben says: “The mountains are so special. I try to spend time amongst them in the winter and in the summer. I can stare for hours at a lake or a mountain top ― with all my senses engaged. The mountains embody our planet at its most beautiful, they give me both inspiration and a humbling perspective. I always return nourished and invigorated, and inspired to live a more responsible life.”

He expands, “the mountains also bring a stark depiction of how precious and fragile our environment is. In particular in Chamonix, the Mer de Glace, one of the huge glaciers tumbling down from Mont Blanc, is retreating at a staggering rate. One of the most incredible experiences I’ve had is being able to walk inside the glacier itself, with a new ice cave carved out every summer on the retreating glacier. But for how long will this still be possible? Incredible places like this bring home the scale of the challenge of protecting our environment. I think we must all work together to live more sustainable and responsible lives, including the environments that we design, build, live, work and play.”

My home terrace, Berkshire, England. Ruby Narbrough.

Ruby was Kiss House’s first employee and is responsible for keeping our Directors in check. She keeps Kiss House running like a well-oiled machine. Ruby’s special summer place is the idyllic waterside terrace at her home in the county of Berkshire in the UK.

“It's bliss — like stepping out of the busyness of daily life and being instantly on holiday.”

Ruby Narbrough

Berkshire
Berkshire is one of the 48 counties of England. Often referred to as “The Royal County of Berkshire” after being recognised as such by the queen in 1957 because it is home to Windsor Castle — the official residence of the House of Windsor aka the Royal Family. It has a population of just under 1 million and a rich history. The county town is Reading, home of Kiss House HQ, and the River Thames (as mentioned elsewhere in this list of special summer places) runs through it.

Ruby says: “Our terrace at home is a little spot of tranquillity. We have a private water divert from the Avon and Kennet canal (a waterway in southern England) and a communal island. There are no houses or buildings, just running water, trees and plants. When the sun shines it is blissful, like stepping out of the busyness of daily life and being instantly on holiday.”

Ruby explains “it’s very peaceful and is surrounded by nature with the comfort of being at home. My home is my absolute sanctuary and in the warmer months I love being able to extend my rather “bijou” space by opening the doors to the outside. It feels like being in the countryside. We can picnic, climb trees, paddle and generally have brilliant, quality time as a family.”

We hope you enjoyed some of our special places to visit during the summer months. We’d love to hear your top recommendations.

Thanks for reading
Sam

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